Germany's future chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, made one thing clear after winning power as the voice of change: It will happen, but not too much, for Germans cherish predictability.
The Social Democrat sought to reassure the world, too, declaring in his first news conference after Sunday's vote that his administration will represent steady foreign policy and "economic stability."Much of that stability came from 16 years of conservative leadership by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, swept from office by voters who wanted a fresh face and new ideas for solving problems at home - chiefly unemployment stuck at more than 10 percent.
Not only has Schroeder vowed to continue Kohl's foreign policies, but he also said Monday he may consult his predecessor directly for advice on diplomacy.
As a first sign of continuity, Schroeder planned to visit Paris on Wednesday in a symbolic trip to the capital of Germany's closest European partner. Kohl made the same journey in 1982, when he, like Schroeder, was elevated from state governor to the leader of the nation.
"Nobody needs to be afraid. We will ensure continuity in foreign policy," Schroeder said. "The international community can rely on Germans to remain good partners."
Also stressing continuity were the environmentalist Greens, which Schroeder invited Monday to join his government as junior partner.
Joschka Fischer, the Greens' leading moderate and considered a possible foreign minister, played down the party's standing call for scrapping NATO, saying "we don't want Germany to go down a separate path" from its allies.
"It will be difficult to govern the country with rebellious policies," he said on German television. "The point is to make successful policies as a party in government."
Germany's power industry warned the Social Democrats and Greens not to make good on their campaign promise to scrap nuclear energy.